WINDSOR LOCKS, CT – An F-4 Phantom fighter jet on display at the New England Air Museum (NEAM) was restored with coatings and technical talent donated by PPG Industries’ aerospace business to honor the jet’s U.S. Air Force service during the Vietnam War.
PPG donated high-solids DESOTHANE® HS/CA 8211 military and defense topcoat in camouflage, Desothane HS/CA 8800 topcoat in gloss white and DESOPRIME® HS/CA 7700 primer. Kevin Lee, PPG Senior Account Manager, Aerospace, provided the technical talent and a personal connection to the aircraft manufacturer, McDonnell Douglas.
NEAM volunteer and restoration technician Jim McGuire contacted Lee, with whom he had worked in the past, to ask for PPG help in repainting the F-4, which is on loan to the museum from the U.S. Air Force. McGuire wanted it restored with its paint scheme from December 1972, when the aircraft was flown in a mission that downed an enemy MiG fighter jet. He knew what it looked like from a photo provided by the mission’s pilot and copilot. “I wanted to use the true military coatings that met the federal standards,” he said.
The assistance by Lee proved to be serendipitous. “My first experience in the aerospace industry came back in 1978 at McDonnell Douglas, in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where we completely refurbished the F-4 aircraft, including repainting.”
Lee selected PPG coatings that would provide a durable system with good UV protection that should retain its gloss and color for years. “This would most likely be the last time this historic airplane is renewed,” he said.
McGuire and a team of volunteers painted the aircraft with Lee’s guidance. McGuire credited Lee and the financial and technical support from PPG for the restoration’s completion. “Words can’t describe the immense pride the crew and I take in having been able to get the lady back in her rightful colors and restore the essence of what this plane was and is,” McGuire said.
“The project was an amazing success,” Lee said, adding, “I worked for McDonnell Douglas for 16 years on the F-4, F-15 and F-18 fighter programs. To this day, for me, there is not a more beautiful airplane in the sky at 600 miles per hour than the F-4.”
The restored F-4 was unveiled this summer for a Vietnam 50th commemoration exhibit at the museum, where it will be on display through September.